Kate Villa is a comedian, writer, and producer who was born in DC, bred in Chicago, and buttered in New York. She is currently The Director of Comedy and Institutional Programming at The Kennedy Center. Formerly, she was a creative producer and head writer for Calm where she helped lead The Daily Move series and their comedy-sleep story offerings. She has produced for shows on Comedy Central and Showtime. Kate has written for projects on TruTV, Discovery+, MTV, Cartuna/IFC, Comedy Central, DuoLingo, and Wondery, to name just a few. She has also contributed jokes and games to NPR’s ‘Wait…Wait…Don’t Tell Me!,’ NPR’s ‘Ask Me Another,’ and Mad Magazine.
What were you like as a teen?
I was a theater kid! I didn’t have enough trust in my voice to ever think I could write, let alone be funny. It took me until after college to even really try and then when I realized there might be something there, I gave it a shot. But yeah, no I was weird. I did try producing, without really knowing it, in high school. I realized that there wasn’t an a cappella show for neighboring schools and put one together. It’s been running for over a decade and that was the first show I had ever conceived and produced. I still remember standing on stage as a junior and looking out at an audience so full it was deemed a fire hazard. That was the first night of my career without me even knowing it.
Did you have an un-sexy starter job?
I’ve had a lot of un-sexy jobs but the worst was when I had an un-sexy internship. I unpacked boxes of apple juice for like eight hours a day, a man brought me into his office and told me I had to smile more, and I was reprimanded for wearing colorful socks (backstage—not even on camera!). I learned to never work in daytime.
What do you consider to be your biggest comedy achievement to date?
Overseeing the Comedy Programming at The Kennedy Center is absolutely my biggest achievement. I saw my first live performance at The Kennedy Center and am now working there? Insane.
When you were coming up in comedy, what helped you stick with it?
I still am up-and-coming! The wins help you stick with it, as do the people. Find good people who make you laugh
Have you ever dealt with trolls?
Who hasn’t? Yelling at frat boys who are a little too drunk and think they should be the ones holding the mic is my favorite pastime.
On your deathbed, what transcendent advice would you croak at a young comedian?
Dreams change. Whatever your dream is at 22 can be different than your dream at 30. That doesn’t mean you’ve given up or that you’ve failed. It just means you’ve learned, grown, and shifted the goalposts. And that’s ok!
Best comedy advice you ever got?
Get a writing group. Ask for what you want. Find people who believe in you.
Worst comedy advice you ever got?
Write to trends.
What is your go-to show when you’ve had a bad day?
Always 30 Rock. Always.